Recorded over the past two or three years in complete secrecy, and heralded by the sudden appearance in January of the single “Where Are We Now?”, David Bowie’s The Next Day may be the greatest comeback album ever.
It’s certainly rare to hear a comeback effort that not only reflects an artist’s own best work, but stands alongside it in terms of quality, as The Next Day does. The fact that producer Tony Visconti has worked with Bowie since the Seventies undoubtedly helps cement the connection with his earlier work – there are constant frissons of recognition while listening to these songs, as if Bowie is deliberately mining memories. That notion is reinforced by the typically artful cover, which takes the original sleeve for the “Heroes” album and partly obscures its image with a simple sans-serif font title panel and, on the rear, a similarly blunt track listing, making the new album a sort of palimpsest of history.
But if the design and sound suggest a link with the past, the songs – save for “Where Are We Now?” – are all about today, as might be expected from such an astute barometer of societal and cultural mores as Bowie. Visconti has suggested in interviews that some songs, notably the title track, were prompted by the singer’s recent immersion in books about medieval history; but whatever their origins, the songs seem to refract elements of the modern day, offering sometimes brutal commentaries on contemporary events. TBC HERE